By Melanie Nathan, 02/28/2012,
JOHANNESBURG -Great excitement hit the gay community in South Africa Monday, when the first ever gay Billboard went up in South Africa, near Melrose Arch on M1 South in Johannesburg.
Much to the awe of the empowered LGBTI community in South Africa, the tone is set to ready the country for the Mr. Gay World event to be held in Johannesburg next month, April 2012.
Arranged by John-Louis O’Neil, designed by Kyle Correia De Araujo, facilitated by Calum Stevenson and Gold Reef City, the bill board depicts two contestants including the Mr. GAY S.A. 2011, Francois Nel, and Mr. GAY S.A. 2010, Charl Van den Berg, both who won the Mr. Gay World for South Africa in the past two years.
The billboard can be viewed at this location by tens of thousands of motorists and passers by each day, providing visibility not only for the event itself, but also inviting the affirming notion that “gay is okay,” in a country where notwithstanding full constitutional equality, homophobia is quite rife.
This year’s Mr. Gay World will be held at various venues in Johannesburg, including the finale at the Lyric Theatre, on April 8th.
The historic event is the first time that 3 gay black Africans will participate, despite criminalization of homosexuality in their respective countries, noting that Mr. Gay Zimbabwe dropped out, citing “personal reasons.”
The Mr. Gay World Competition is a public performance where the delegates represent their nation as spokesperson and embody the spirit of their nation.
The competition takes place over an intense four days and includes various challenges including a photo challenge, sports challenge, fashion show/run way challenge, swimming and more.
The Mr. Gay World Organization is an event where participants from all over the world, with hopes of increasing the affirmative image for gay people, compete, intending to make a ‘difference’ in encouraging full acceptance. The participants are all viewed as ambassadors for local and international issues and causes.
Francois Nel and Melanie Nathan, Cape Town Pride 2011.
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